Thomas, Burnett at heart of NCAA investigation at Tech

Georgia Tech was fined $100,000 by the NCAA, stripped of its 2009 ACC championship in football and placed on four years of probation on Thursday for failure to cooperate with its investigation into the football and men’s basketball programs.

Those weren’t the only penalties, which stemmed from what the NCAA described as an isolated instance of former standout  wide receiver Demaryius Thomas allegedly receiving $312 in impermissible gifts, and grew to Morgan Burnett allegedly taking gifts and misleading NCAA investigators. Both have denied taking improper benefits.

In addition, more penalties were self-imposed and accepted by the NCAA:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Four years of probation from July 14, 2011 through July 13, 2015. The public report further details the conditions of this probation.
  • A reduction of two men’s basketball recruiting days during the 2011 summer evaluation period (self-imposed by the university).
  • A limit of 10 official visits for men’s basketball for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.
  • A vacation of all contests won by the football team during the 2009 season after November 24. The ACC said Tech must return the trophy. No champion for the season will be named.

The committee stated in its report, “This case provides a cautionary tale of conduct that member institutions should avoid while under investigation for violations of NCAA rules.” It said Tech’s previous history of violations factored into its punishment decisions. After receiving penalties for the 2005 and ‘06 seasons for infractions that occurred in the 1990s, the NCAA said that if Tech committed another major infraction before Nov. 17, 2010, it would be subject to added penalties as a repeat violator.

Within the investigation, the NCAA noted the combative and confrontational attitude of general counsel, Randy Nordin. He retired in December. Paul Parker, formerly the assistant athletics director at compliance, left in April to take a job with Auburn.

The case started when Tech learned that Thomas, received clothing from a friend of someone who worked for an sports agent. Burnett and former player Calvin Booker attended the meeting when Thomas received the clothing. Burnett didn’t receive anything.

Athletics Director Dan Radakovich told coach Paul Johnson about the investigation into Thomas receiving improper benefits, but didn’t inform him that he shouldn’t talk to Burnett about the investigation. The NCAA said that conversation hindered its investigation.

The NCAA noted that Tech continued to allow one of the players to compete in the final three games of the 2009-10 football season, in which Tech won the ACC and played in the Orange Bowl, despite the NCAA notifying the school that it had questions about the eligibility of that player. Dennis Thomas, the head of the Infractions Committee, said Tech had enough information to warrant not using the player until it could investigate the players’ eligibility. Tech President Dr. G.P. “Bud” Peterson made the decision to allow both to play.

“It appeared to the committee that the institution attempted to manipulate the information surrounding potential violations involving (the student-athlete) so there would be enough doubt about its validity to justify the decision not to declare him ineligible,” the NCAA said in its report.

The committee also noted “the university took these actions despite information reported by the student-athlete, another football student-athlete and an assistant football coach regarding the potential agent involvement in preferential treatment benefits.” Tech barred Booker from the university’s training facilities and denied him access to complimentary tickets to athletic contests.

Thomas denied that he was one of the reasons for the investigation. In a text message, Thomas said he was offered things by people not affiliated with Tech, but never accepted. Burnett, a safety and third-round pick, also denied the report, texting that he “did not knowingly or unknowingly receive any gifts from any agents … These reports are baseless and false.”

Thomas and Burnett signed with Tech when Chan Gailey was the coach. Paul Johnson, who led Tech to the ACC title in 2009, was hired after Gailey was fired by Radakovich after the 2007 season after five years at the helm.

It is the second time in six years that Tech has been penalized by the NCAA. It learned in 2003 that it had been misapplying an NCAA eligibility rule and worked with the NCAA to investigate the nature and results of the error. They learned that 17 athletes, including 11 football players, who were academically ineligible were allowed to compete during the 1998 and ‘99 seasons.

As a result, Georgia Tech was on a two-year probation that resulted in self-imposed scholarship cuts (from 85 to 79) and a reduction in signing classes (from 25 to no more than 19) in 2005 and 2006. In addition to those penalties, the NCAA infractions committee added a limit of 79 total football scholarships for the 2006 and 2007 teams, six below the normal maximum.

The infractions committee also recommended that Tech vacate wins from seasons, 1998-2002, plus 2004, which were all winning seasons that ended in bowl trips. Tech appealed and the NCAA appeals committee agreed, allowing the results of those seasons to stand.

The NCAA has been in what appears to be a testy mood regarding alleged violations and lack of cooperation in wake of scandals at Ohio State, Southern California and North Carolina, among other places. The Trojans were forced by the NCAA to forfeit their 2004 national championship and the Buckeyes voluntarily forfeited 12 wins and their 2010 Sugar Bowl victory in an attempt to appease the infractions committee. Penalties against North Carolina’s program haven’t been announced. However, numerous players were suspended for all or parts of last season.

Please keep checking back for news.

– Doug Roberson, AJC. Follow on twitter @ajcgatech

531 comments Add your comment

Get back to World of Warcraft, nerd

July 14th, 2011
3:04 pm

TAKE DOWN THE BANNERS BOYS !!!!!

Worm

July 14th, 2011
3:07 pm

ACC championship rings now on E-Bay..FishFry better tread lightly for the next four years.

dawgmatic

July 14th, 2011
3:08 pm

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

NERDS!!!

Pswole GT

July 14th, 2011
3:08 pm

Ohio St. player(s) received a lot more than $312 worth of goods and were allowed to play in the bowl game and keep the win. We lose our ACC Championship? Something doesn’t seem right.

SEC

July 14th, 2011
3:10 pm

@Pswole GT

Ohio State vacated their win as well as firing their coach. Be lucky this was your only punishment.

Tech Wrecker

July 14th, 2011
3:10 pm

Wow a vacation of 2009 after November 24th? Where are they going on vacation at? Hahahaha

dawgmatic

July 14th, 2011
3:10 pm

And all for $312.00!!! I thought you nerds took Math!!!!

BBQ

July 14th, 2011
3:10 pm

D_MN! SECOND! If Tech got all that for one player receiving benefits, wonder what the NCAA has in store for UNC?

JACKETfan12

July 14th, 2011
3:10 pm

I am in absoulte denial. This is so startling. A crappy, losing season followed by our recent title being revoked. I have lost hope and joy in this football program.

Worm

July 14th, 2011
3:10 pm

And you bought Hewitt out when you could’a fired him for rules violations..D-Rad needs to GO!

Reggie Ball

July 14th, 2011
3:11 pm

Aw, shucks. Too bad Tech didn’t vacate the 2008 season. As this blogger pointed out:

“If it turns out that Tech’s wins from the 2008 season must be vacated, it will mean that it’s been over 20 years since Tech beat Georgia without ineligible players.”

http://www.dawgsonline.com/2011/07/14/bracing-for-impact/

Buckeyes

July 14th, 2011
3:12 pm

Pswole what you talking bout? Duh we lost it all don’t complain about someone else when your just as bad.

DawginLex

July 14th, 2011
3:12 pm

The sad part is, if Tech had won their bowl game in 2009 and gone undefeated in 2010 like Auburn did, all of this would have been swept under the rug.

NCAA practices selective enforcement.

MJC

July 14th, 2011
3:12 pm

If Tech appeals this, then there is no way this punishment will stand.

PerimeterCenterJacket

July 14th, 2011
3:13 pm

We forfeited 1 win and 2 losses. Awesome. This does not affect the future of Tech football! No fan of any other team will dampen my spirits.

GOOOOO JACKETS!

collegeballfan

July 14th, 2011
3:14 pm

“Despite being told not to do so, Tech told the athlete that he was going to be interviewed by the NCAA, which it said hindered its investigation.”

If Tech did something as dumb as this, then they deserve every penalty they get.

SEC

July 14th, 2011
3:14 pm

@MJC

They appealed once and won, don’t expect to get that lucky twice against the NCAA.

dougthejacket

July 14th, 2011
3:14 pm

more BS from the NCAA

The OSU Buckeyes

July 14th, 2011
3:14 pm

Pssole just worry about your team the Buckeye have been hit so just worry about your team and not what we did. Your team is bad.

[...] Georgia Tech has to vacate its 2009 ACC championship and has been placed on probation through 2015 by the NCAA. Tech has also been fined [...]

[...] Tech fined $100,000, forced to vacate 2009 ACC title by NCAA | Georgia Tech 100,000 in fines, vacated some wins in 2009, and a couple bball recruiting days lost…not the end of the world. [...]

Jacket Man

July 14th, 2011
3:15 pm

Note that the player never had dealings with any agent, but a person who turned out to be a friend of the agent, and that’s where the confusion began. Also, the amount of “favors” we’re talking about is less than $400.00…This mess snowballed out of control from there…

Looking at what’s going on at North Carolina, Ohio State and Auburn right now, the timing of this small potato is rather curious, wouldn’t you say?

RabidDawgFan

July 14th, 2011
3:16 pm

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!…wait for it….HAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA..

TO HELL WITH TECH! YOU LOSERS! GO DAWGS!!!!!

Floyd

July 14th, 2011
3:16 pm

…”misapplying an NCAA eligibilty rule”…Is that what they’re calling playing with kids who didn’t go to class, then changing their grades to reflect otherwise after the season? I’ve seen some revisionist history in my day, but that might take the cake.

PMC

July 14th, 2011
3:16 pm

Wow, if this is what Tech gets Ohio State should consider not having a program for a year geez.

Bill

July 14th, 2011
3:16 pm

So Jonathan Dwyer not only could not pass class he took stuff he was not supposed to……hmmmmmmm

TB

July 14th, 2011
3:16 pm

UGA fans can’t wrap their heads around the fact that GT folks don’t and never will care about being called “nerds”.

Bryan G.

July 14th, 2011
3:16 pm

The good news is that you guys don’t have to vacate a win to Georgia for that year. Well done!

101 Airborne

July 14th, 2011
3:16 pm

And here come the Trolls. Enjoy it jerks

GT Alum

July 14th, 2011
3:17 pm

Worm -

It sounds like it was a football player, not a basketball player. I’m really not sure why the basketball program is being penalized.

SEC

July 14th, 2011
3:17 pm

@RabidDawgFan

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Didn’t UGA just have a player suspended 4 games last year for a similar offense?

Jacketlover

July 14th, 2011
3:17 pm

Nice job Dan. Are we back in the SEC?

Oledawg

July 14th, 2011
3:17 pm

But what about Reggie Ball impersonating a quarterback????BWHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA——-OMG–I can’t stop laughing

thwg

July 14th, 2011
3:17 pm

where did uga kids get the idea that calling us nerds was an insult?

Just Call Me Boss

July 14th, 2011
3:17 pm

Well at least our players are eligible academically, I guess underwater basket weaving was too hard of an elective for those turf science majors to take. The guy couldn’t even spell when he broke the news.

Rduck

July 14th, 2011
3:18 pm

so let me get this straight. we were supposed to declare a player ineligible before we even knew what the ruling was going to be from the NCAA? now if in fact the administration leaked word of the investigation to said atlete, then we definately should be punished. as far as the BB stuff… all i can say is thanks Paul Hewitt for continuing to tear apart our program and pocketbook… DawginLex… AMEN!!!

Rdawg

July 14th, 2011
3:18 pm

Dawg fan here … obviously no attachment to the GT program, but how can the NCAA bring a heavy hand for this infraction – but can’t seem to find anything … nothing at all … of impropriety over on the plains at Auburn?

Buckeye

July 14th, 2011
3:19 pm

@ The OSU Buckeyes – Preach!!!!!

The OSU Buckeyes

July 14th, 2011
3:20 pm

Atlien

July 14th, 2011
3:20 pm

I’ve always said there are lots of violations at GT, but the school is probably in the 10% cleanest athletic programs in the country.

I’d be more interested to know how the NCAA finds out who gave who a t-shirt.

Too funny

July 14th, 2011
3:20 pm

SEC…. Similar offense? One kid selling his own personal property is a little different than this. UGA didn’t try to hide anything and sat the player out while the investigation was completed. Nice try…

Dunwoody Mom

July 14th, 2011
3:20 pm

Gee, Rdawg – maybe there was WAS no impropriety at Auburn. Now, Mississippi State – that’s a whole other issue.

57th Street

July 14th, 2011
3:21 pm

Suck It Barry. Tech Blows. I wish the NCAA would have nagasakied y’all

I was right to be concerned

July 14th, 2011
3:21 pm

Damn! Well at least the cheatin’ dogs will now have a bone to throw. $312? Seriously?

Dirty Harry

July 14th, 2011
3:21 pm

Wow, NCAA infraction penalties twice in six years? I thought y’all were too smart for that kind of stuff……..

[...] NCAA to announce GA. Tech punishment today Here are the results. Tech fined $100,000, forced to vacate 2009 ACC title by NCAA | Georgia Tech Reply With Quote + Reply to Thread « Previous Thread | Next [...]

lovetravel

July 14th, 2011
3:21 pm

SAD!!!!!!!!!!! I think they did this on purposed to make it look bad. The coach and staff knew it and yet didn’t care about a thing and all they was doing get $$$$$$$$$$$$$ to support their family. I would suggest that all of the coach and staff to repay the money back and be strict on all the staff. It make me mad now because they are doing this over and over and yet no one seem to care if it UGA Or GT but it’s not fair that UGA doesn’t have to do anything. I hope that player and sport agency get some probation time and learn to stop play around expect for that Sport Agency guy (he or she was the one did this on purposed to make it look bad)

Get back to World of Warcraft, nerd

July 14th, 2011
3:22 pm

$312? Seriously?

It wasn’t the 312$. It was the knowing about it and hiding it after the fact.

truth

July 14th, 2011
3:22 pm

$312 = 100,000 fine?

Imagine if Ohio State was treated the same.

Their fine would be $100 million lol

curious

July 14th, 2011
3:22 pm

Sleepy dawg you are an embarassment to all Georgia fans. Please shut up.